Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Date Posted:  06/30/2012
Modified:  07/05/2012
Date Climbed:   06/24/2012
Author:  Tomomi

 Mt.Bierstadt- West Slopes  

Start Time: 6:40am
Summit: 8:40am (Summit Departure Time: 9:30am)
End Time: 10:45am
Time: 2hrs up, 1hr 25min down
Forecast: High 70, Low 40 chance of thunderstorm after 1pm
Actual Weather: Sunny and occasionally cloudy, breezy
Actual Temperature: during the hike: Start 6:40am about 45F, Middle around 8am (up) about 65F, Summit about 50F

Gears(Items with underlines are the ones I actually used during this hike): Osprey Manta 25 backpack, Pearl Izumi trail running shoes, mountain hardware long black pants, tank top, base layer, rain jacket, thin down jacket(I used it when sitting at the summit), gloves, headband, hat, headlamp, GPS devise(to record altitude), iPhone (to track route and time), compass/thermometer(just to record temperature), yak tracks, hand sanitizer, 1 spare t-shirt, 1pair of spare socks, map printed out from, baseball cap, sunglasses, sunscreen
Food/hydration (Items with underlines are the ones I actually used): Water (3L, in bladder of backpack, I probably drank about 2L), lemonade thinned with water (500ml water bottle, drank about 200ml), coconut water (1can, to drink at the summit ;) ), beef jerky(1 small pack), goodness knows snack (1pack), Rice balls (3, ate 1), snickers (1 bar), dried mango (1 bag), peanut butter packets (3)

This was my first 14er climb without a partner (I had done Mt.Torreys with my husband last summer). I had felt a bit intimidated and did a lot of research beforehand. totally helped me huge time in the preparation, so, in return, I hope this report helps those first timers or beginners who feel a bit intimidated with 14ers….

(Previous Night, Prep)
The forecast reported a possible thunderstorm after 1pm, so I wanted to get as early start as possible.
I was estimating 3hrs hike up/2hrs hike down=5hrs total; I wanted to be off the trail by 12pm to make sure to avoid the storm so planned to start the hike before 7am.
I read up recent reports on Mt. Bierstadt to estimate the current condition and hike profile.

(Getting there)
I left Denver around 5am, somehow missed the exit to Georgetown, took some 20min. detour and was at the trailhead by 6:40am.
There were about 10 cars in the parking lot but there were still plenty of spots left.
I parked at the one on the left side of the road with restrooms.

(Hike Up)
Start Altitude: 10,974(My GPS devise(set in meters, and east coast time) might not have been calibrated correctly, but should be roughly right).
Start Temp: about 45F Image

Gorgeous view of Mt. Bierstadt soon after the trailhead.
The sun had just come out so the beam of sunlight was intense but felt great.
The trail goes down to the creek before it starts to climb up.
Nice, easy meadow hike for the first half mile or so. Image
Scott Gomer Creek
Crossing is easy-breezy, and FUN!

The trail remained nice and easy with very gradual climb until about 11,300ft where you can see and sense the sudden change in steepness.
(Up to this point would be a nice trail run actually.)
The trail also became sandy and a bit slippery from this point. Image
The trail turns steeper all the sudden at around 11,300ft

45min. into the hike (3.6km in (about 2miles in, my GPS app is in KM setting), at 11,770ft), I stopped for a snack (half pack of Goodness knows snack pack). I usually don’t like to eat while hiking but man, a bit of sugar does make you feel a lot better.

The temperature was rising quickly, and around 8am it was about 65F.

Nice and peaceful meadow view along the way

Great views all the way up

1hour 22min. into the hike (5.57km in (about 3.4miles) at 12,650ft), another snack time.
By this time, I was starting to feel the altitude a bit.

The 2nd snack break. My tracking devices.

The trail turns into rocky climbing around at 13,600ft.
At this point the trail became less obvious. I love this kind of climbing but it may be scary for some people.
Look for Cairns, know your limits and use your best judgment to pick the route and you’ll be totally fine.

Rocky part of the trail leading to the summit. Trail becomes less obvious so look carefully!




GREAT view

As soon as I got there I was greeted by a marmot.


I had never seen a marmot so close.
He stuck around the summit area the entire time I was there ( I was there for about 50min) occasionally getting SUPER close to people.
I was concerned that he had a nest around there and couldn’t get to it because of us people…

There were about 10-15 people at the summit in and out throughout my entire stay.
The summit area was pretty spread out (compared to Mt. Torreys I think) so it never felt too crowded.
I was one of early birds so I bet it got more crowded later the day as I saw more people coming up when I was climbing down.

I had one rice ball and a can of coconut water as a victory drink ;) and asked one of people to take a photo of my signature victory jump.

Mmmm it tasted soooo good especially at 14K ft above sea level where it came from!!

Another 14er completed! A victory jump!

I felt attempted to keep going to Mt. Evans but decided not to as I didn’t want to run into a thunderstorm by myself.
I talked to a couple of groups who were going to go for it though.
I spent about good 50min. enjoying the view and headed down.

(Way down)
I saw more people coming up as I started climbing down.
After the rocky part I was going to run down but the trail was too sandy and slippery so I took my time and walked.
I started running once the trail became less steep.
I didn't rain the entire time I was on the trail but I saw clouds moving in as I came down...

Clouds moving in as I came down. I don't know if there was actually a thunder storm that day

Again, I saw SO MANY people coming up as I came down; the parking area was over flown when I returned to my car.
I saw lines cars parked along both side of the road as I drove away….

The trail seemed very family friendly. I saw several families with small kids (probably younger than 10yrs old, even with babies on backs).
The trail was in great condition (no snow) and has great views throughout so it doesn’t feel dragging (It felt a bit dragging when I did Mt. Torreys.) The hike itself felt much easier than Mt. Torreys as well. However that might be because I was still acclimated to the high altitude from living in the mountain this past winter. There was almost no wind the day I hiked but if it had been windy I might have felt a bit sketched out climbing up the rocky part.
I saw some people just starting to hike up as I returned to my car so I guess you can have a later start too but I’d recommend to start as early as you can 1: to avoid the crowd 2: to avoid a possible thunderstorm 3: to stay cool the entire hike. #1 was obvious from how many people I passed by coming down. As to #2, I don’t know if there was actually a thunderstorm that day but when I looked up the summit area coming down, I saw dark clouds hovering over. Plus, early morning hikes feels always better; being able to say “I just did 14ers” before noon is pretty awesome For #3, it felt like a perfect temperature going up, but it definitely felt hot coming down (It was close to 70F after the middle point coming down). It’s personal preference but I prefer to climb cool without having to adjust what I’m wearing.
I’d probably pack a bit lighter for Mt. Bierstadt next time and try to run up as far as I can. I saw some trail runners (they probably ran up whole the way, but..) plus I now know this trail would be fun for trail running as well.
Overall, I am so glad that I got out there that day and did this hike; it was absolutely gorgeous. I was worried about being alone but there were people around me constantly throughout the way.
My next journey is set to be a full-moon hike (actually more like moon set viewing followed by a hike under the star) with sunrise at the summit. I can’t wait!!!!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

well done
07/01/2012 14:41
I think your report will serve well for others. Nice job!
And congrats on overcoming your concerns for hiking a 14er alone!


07/02/2012 14:13
Thank you for the trip report!
Bierstadt was my first. I will never forget it.
I was very excited about my accomplishment. It was Awesome!!
Way to go!


Thank you!
07/03/2012 22:46
Thanks guys! The first time of anything is scary but it feels great to conquer it! Now my first sunrise climb tonight...super psyched!


07/05/2012 18:42
It is tough to do a true ”solo” trip on Bierstadt. I've been up it many, many times and have experienced a ”solo” climb only once, in mid-December. Nobody on the way up, nobody on the way down. Then again, I was following a well-established trail, which might disqualify any ”solo” claims, as a trail serves as reassurance that you're on the right path. My only true solo climb (in well over 1,000 ascents) was in Alaska's Gates of the Arctic: no humans, no trails. Just me and my fears.


I agree that they are many people
07/09/2012 21:34
My report wasn't intended to compete or define the ”soloness” of my trip, but thanks for sharing your opinion on the use of the word; I'll edit the title to prevent a confusion. My intention with the report was to encourage people who want to do 14ers but feel intimidated doing it without partners, and I hope that you were able to get that. I snowshoe by myself a lot in the winter so I've explored mountains without following trails or encountering people the whole way but I try never to underestimate anything that I do for the first time hence the fear and well preparations always come along. Kudos to your accomplishment of solo climb in the Arctic!

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